I work part-time (16 hours) at South West branch of a well known national chain of grocery stores that like to publicise themselves as ethical and a mutual.
At a management briefing today a pay deal has been announced for the next two years amounting to 10.2 percent with 8.2 percent being paid in October 2015 and 2% in October 2016. This pay rise has been restricted to Floor staff and 1st line team leaders.
Whilst on the surface this may seem a good deal it is flawed at the most fundamental level. Most workers are on short time contracts; anything from 8 to 20 hours and for many of them especially those drawing in-work benefits this pay rise is no rise at all.
Colleagues drawing such benefits as Housing Benefit, Tax credits, Pension credit or any other means tested benefits probably will not get a pay rise because their hourly rate will increase and their means tested subsidies will go down cancelling out any advantage.
Team leaders are mostly on full time contracts of 35 hours and above so will probably derive some short term benefit from this deal before inflation cancels it out.
USDAW will probably crow about this deal from the rooftops whilst urging it’s members to vote Labour and will be busy trying to avoid dislocating it’s collaborationist shoulder whilst it pats itself on the back about ‘delivering’ for it’s membership who pay the eye watering salaries to its office bearers enjoying privileged jobs for life at the members expense.
This is a lousy deal for all workers whichever way you stack it up. It reinforces division between workers in an artificial hierarchy, it does nothing for the lowest paid and most exploited workers, it gives a collaborationist union that frequently negotiates ‘no-strike’ deals with exploitative employers just to get recognition at work a superficial piece of meaningless publicity.
The long term vision of the Industrial Workers of the World must remain in place. There can be no peace until the wages system is done away with and workers in all endeavours of the means of production whether agrarian or industrial are fully in democratic control.
Reformism and collaboration are not the tools of working class emancipation.
The struggle goes on.